- Traumatising content
As the inhibitor rises and the eternal flame is quenched, our lands shall be freed, and only then will the Princess be set to flee.
It began with ice.
A relentless, bone-chilling tickle of frost that stretched across the lands of Axulran, crawling over the mountain crests and freezing the grassy meadows. Frozen in time, the kingdom fought for political control all across the region of Ellixus, paying no mind to the death and torment they may cause along the way.
Cateline Bennett, a princess consumed with ice, found herself lost in a foreign kingdom with nothing but her wits to survive. As she explores this unknown land, she unravels her past and discovers that the magic she had concealed for so long could unleash chaos so intense, it could destroy the world as she knew it.
With her untapped magic and new friends, Cateline must vanquish the enemies that threatened the world of Denzethea as they knew it, else they, and all they knew, would crumble to ruin.
NOTE: A review on this fiction has indicated that certain themes were traumatizing. While I believe this to be exagerated, I have added the appropriate tag for those who may be sensitive to those themes (fever dreams, delusions, and trials and tribulations).
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Cateline, Cateline, Cateline, you sweet summer child.
Clothed in the fineries of royalty, she treks through the unknown with nary a clue as to how deeply she is out of her depths. For now.
As a reader, I really enjoy the air of cluelessness that clings to our MC, the lovely Miss Cateline Bennett. As she stumbles through the opening few chapters, so do we. We get a glimpse into her potential and a hint as to how the story at large will play out. Just the merest of hints, nothing major.
I really enjoy the pacing. Unlike most web serials, the author has chosen to emulate traditionally published pacing and I'm here for it. We get more time to learn about the MC's, more time for them to become actual people with individual motives and personalities. The development of each MC, so far, has been thoughtful and well planned. They don't instantly become bff's, they don't mesh right off the bat. Just like real human beings, their relationship dynamics will take some getting used to. Hell, 2 of the POV characters treat the other as a slightly annoying nuisance due to them being inconvenienced by her appearance. And I enjoy that realism. Making friends is hard when you get over a certain age.
The story is developing. As of chapter 17, I am getting hints and whiffs of where this story could potentially lead. I look forward to the unraveling that is bound to occur but I'm also enjoying the concerted build up that is currently going on. Again, the pacing is deliberate and thoughtful. As a fan of traditional writing conventions, I'm enjoying the ride. The rise, the connection being formed to the characters and the world, I do believe it will all pay off very well in the coming chapters.
As far as style and grammar go, I don't think I need to mention much about them. The author does an excellent job of infusing voice into their writing and the grammar is top notch. As far as RR quality goes, this is up there. It's obvious they take their time and carefully consider what words are being used and why.
Overall, read this! It's high quality writing along with some excellent character building. For those who enjoy a slower, more deliberate burn, this ones for you. I'll be looking forward to the chapter updates so I can keep up with the adventures of Cateline, Aiora, and Varin. And Thaddius, can't forget the Thad.
Honestly, this is really well done! I've seen this is a rewrite of a previous work, but I'll judge this based off this alone, not the previous work. It is a bit hazy, but I'll explain why I think that. Well, let's break it down.
STYLE: One of the highest scoring category of the lot. The prose is well-structured and easy to follow. Although the first chapter is a bit heavy on the descriptions, which detract from what actually is going on, it does get better. The dialogue between the characters feels organic and quite fitting for the typical style of fantasy. It's written in third-person, which I think is the best perspective to showcase this kind of story. Good job!
GRAMMAR: I found little to no issues regarding any typos or spelling mistakes. Well, that is kind of a given considering everyone edits their chapters for grammar.
STORY: I do have a few bones to pick with the way of the story so far, but not a lot. The first five chapters are important, extremely important. It's the first breaking point for all stories, giving the option for the reader to continue or drop it. Reaching that point, I was on the fence. Cateline only woke up (multiple times might I add), talked to a few characters, and is now at an academy. It is quite confusing with the fever dreams at the beginning along with the slower pace of the story as a whole. The author did mention that this story is meant to be like a traditional novel, not like a web serial. Perhaps I had to read more to find out, but I wasn't that compelled to do so. That aside, I do like where it's going. The common fantasy story with elements of gore and mystery makes this a fascinating world to delve into. As long the mystery is there, the story can go places. Great work on this part! Sorry this is kind of long, but I had to put it all in there.
CHARACTER: The best category in my opinion. They feel more real than anything I read on Royal Road so far. The quick, realistic dialogue adds to the quirks each character brings to the story. As the MC, Cateline is very interesting and not a lot is told in the beginning about her. The supporting characters do their part, propelling the story forwards along with the MC. Their thoughts are clearly presented within the narratives and their motives are explained. Although it sounds trivial, you'll be surprised how rare it is to find in stories. Some interactions are a bit cringy, but nonetheless entertaining. Don't change the way the characters are presented because that's what makes this story come to life!
Overall, I would highly recommend. I don't read a lot of fantasy, but this is a great read for even non-fantasy readers as well. The work is well written, and I could see that the author put a lot of time and effort was put in constructing a world that we can lose ourselves into.
Keep up the great work!
If I was to summarize the story premise with just a sentence, then it'd be "Elsa wannabe isekaid into a grimdark fantasy world filled with dreams and hallucinations and actually compelling bad guys."
Do you see how awesome that sounds?
Great. Excellent. Magnifico. The author really knows how to write good prose, raising the standards of web serials to the max. Even with the first chapter I was immediately drawn in by the unhappy circumstance the princess found herself in. Fog? Creepy. Rain? Damp af. Mud? Ew. I felt what the protagonist felt, saw what she saw, and experienced what she experienced. That's what I look for in a read- to draw me into the workd immediately.
Polished worldbuilding. It really shows that the author took a lot of time fleshing out the world and it's people and how culture, status, wealth, and all that intertwine to the overall story. The story premise in itself is not that unique with the typical protagonist carrying with her a secret boon, but uniqueness doesn't carry a story. It's how that premise is delivered to the readers that really drives it home. Sure, you could have a robot carrying around a magic wand and a horse riding a human, but in the end if the delivery of that premise falls flat, uniqueness won't account for a story. In short, the premise is not unique, but the author delivers the story very, very well.
No errors found from what I've read so far.
The character voices are very distinct from one another. They also feel realistic and carry with them weight and importance. This has been one of my flaws as a writer, and seeing how the author writes the characters and their interactions in the story through dialogue, it really helps me improve. Different characters use different word choices befitting their character and status- among other things such as culture.
This is one of my first reviews ever, so please take this as just an amateur opinion.
Style: It's in 3rd Person, The style of narration is a little bit confusing for those like me, You know like the kind of thing you know is some sort of art, but you are too uncultured to understand its appeal.
Being more of an adept of light novel (which settle itself for minimalistic description) than novels, it is quite refreshing to see so many descriptions (clothes, hair color, eyes color, even temperature) .
Story: There is an elf, t*ts, I ain't complaining, the first chapter is a little bit confusing, but it gets clearer as you advance through the chapter.
5 Chapter in, you get to know that something big is going to happen. So yeah, the story should get you hooked in.
Just like what other reviews noted before this one, It's flawless, I can only dream to reach this level of mastery of grammar.
I have nothing to add here that hasn't already been said by my fellow reviewer.
The MC is very lovable, and I could very much relate to her (we were both wondering wtf exactly happened in the first chapters.)
The dialogue, between characters, is the my favorite part in this novel.
I definitely reccomand this novel. You'll definitely gain some IQ reading this.
That was all I have to say, Good luck for the rest of your novel.
(I'm not actually first but it was too good a pun to waste)
Let me preface this by saying I was a big fan of the previous version of this work. It was one of the first stories I ever reviewed on this site and it really set my expectations high going forwards. Now, more than a year later, Rise of the Firstborn returns even better than ever.
The first thing I noticed as I began reading was the prose. Briizy has always had top-notch prose, and I'm happy to say that the quality remains ever-consistent throughout this rewrite. The smooth descriptions and snappy dialogue did wonders for immersion in this story's previous incarnation, and now I can see the author working to elevate them to the next level.
Speaking of dialogue, I'm in love with the author's grasp of character voice. This has always been one of her greatest strengths, with each character not only speaking differently via dialect, but also word choice and expression. In a single scene, the dialogue alone can carry through a range of emotions, both between characters and within a single person.
Oh, and the author's biggest weakness from before has been fixed. As a member of #badpacinggang, I am sad to see Briizy leave, but I'm very happy with how the reworked opening turned out. More time spent on the MC's emotions means more emotional impact with the reader, and while this story can certainly tug at your heartstrings, I want to ask why is that a bad thing???
Rise of the Firstborn brings us a depth of emotion rarely seen on RR, stemming from its darker fantasy roots meshed with the author's personal writing style. If you're into a mix of traditional medieval fantasy and magic school with a dash of drama and mystery, definitely give this one a try!
This story is an excellent read, and I will break down the reasons why as follows:
Style: the style is 3rd person, past tense perspective which is my favorite perspective yo read. From that alone, the style had a really easy flow. The author manages to balance prose and dialogue nicely with rich descriptions of the protagonists surroundings alongside a nice amount of dialogue.
Grammar: there is absolutely nothing to report here since the author did an excellent job with the technical aspects of writing. She clearly knows what she is doing, and readers will not find this difficult or rough to read at all. Very polished.
Story: the story is quite intriguing. It follows the journey of a princess who finds herself in rough places far from the luxuries of her aristocratic life. She is the only child in her family who was born with magic and has been isolated, perhaps reviled(?), because of her unique gift. The story is populated with conventional tropes of fantasy like humans, elves, and a medieval setting, but it is accented wonderfully with haunting scenes of gore and macabre which are shrouded in ambiguity, symbolism, and mystery. Readers who like a medieval magic-fantasy with different races of creatures will not be disappointed by this at all.
Character: our main character is a heroine who is both punchy and capable. Despite the skepticism with which she is viewed by her father because of her gift, she remains confident in herself. This is seen when she defends herself against the prying hands of some bad actors. The story is full of characters, some rough around the edges, and others who are ethereal and playful. (They all have beautiful names as well!)
Overall, I highly recommend this story!
Before I start this, I'll say that the author shows good grasp on grammar. I would give it 4 stars, since there are still mistakes, but it is far above other novels that get on trending, and still get 5 stars with the 5th grade grammar those authors employ. So, 5 stars for grammar it is.
That being said, I'm not too sure about the novel itself. I'm staying for the premise, but that's it for now. I hope it gets better, and I'll revisit this review in the future if the feeling changes.
Now, revisions and remakes are hard to do, mainly because a lot of authors constantly use the original for reference and for a quick copy+paste, cutting out blocks at a time, if they felt were superfluous, and only then rewriting what they liked most.
What happens, sometimes, is that those superfluous scenes had acted as a connector between settings, offering either information or pacing that is, now, nowhere else to be found. This is how I'm feeling about this rewrite, as of chapter 16, without having read the original. It feels like something was there, but it's missing. Streamlined, but only if you know exactly what for.
Time is constantly being skipped amidst various POV shifts, with no significant content being brought to the table to justify it. I imagine it is used to give some behind-the-scenes respite for the character, to think to themselves and come to terms with whatever happened in their previous appearance, but it just leads somewhat jarring changes in reasoning, behavior and setting. "I hate him, I don't hate him. No, I hate him. But do I?" Feels like retconning.
Cateline, who I surmise is the protagonist, has gotten less screen time than the supporting cast, and has barely made any progress since the first chapter. We get a small taste of what she could, and then... Poof.
The constant shift between perspectives brings a disconnect to the story, as if I'm reading loosely connected, but still distinct novels, only for none of them to progress. Maybe the author's setting up for the real start, but it just feels like a car stalling.
At this point, there is only character development, with very little exposition. My problem with it, is that there hasn't been any time to create a connection to those characters. We have a character who feels betrayed, a character with strong sense of morals, another who is scared... But who are they?
I will keep on reading, and change the review accordingly in the future.
I think the story is in a good place, and the score will go up with revision.
One of the first thing that comes to mind is that the story conveys the author's love of creation and storytelling, and that's very important. There's passion here. There's someone working hard behind the scenes to craft believable characters and an interesting storyworld. At this point, it's still rough, but I can feel that this is someone whose skills are going to improve if they keep at it.
The opening chapter suffers a bit from overly poetic descriptions, but the style improves significantly from Ch 2 onwards. There's a nice range of vocab and strong descriptive elements.
I rated the story a bit low for now because the structure could use some polish to improve flow. However, that said, I can tell that the idea of the story and what the author is trying to do is sound. Who the characters are and what they're going through works. It's simply a matter of refinement.
The characters are a strong feature. The author does a good job of bringing each to life and giving them their own unique personality. And that's fabulous. In fact, story aside, I think it's the characters that are going to draw people into this story and keep them there.
Overall: This is well crafted story. It uses the classy tropes of a medieval fantastic universe (not a big fan) but managed to make me curious.
Style: A lot of work has been done here as it is a rework. This kind of quality is for me the best asset of this story. I knew withing the first chapter that I wasn't reading a crappy fan fiction or a stupid isekai! In terms on what you can find on Royal Road, this is a 6/5 on this point. The prose and pacing are very polished, hence the VERY pleasant read. There is also a good balance/flow between vivid exposure and dialogues.
Grammar: Nothing to say. It’s flawless.
Story: You’ll find here the classic tropes of a medieval fantastic setting with a story centralized around sorcerers and magic. The MC is a young woman with a conventional past, evolving in a world that you could have seen a million time. The world could be more unique by adding minor details (architecture, clothes, etc.) but so far it's really classic. This was my bigger grip in the first chapters and I kept reading expecting that the story, at least, would quickly find a way to stand out. Which it did when it added very-well written bloody bleak scenes. The deal was sealed for me but… maybe it could come too late for a less patient reader; or if you’re not really into fantasy. Otherwise, the story was coherent.
Character: Despite fainting a lot in the first chapters, the MC tends to be appreciable. She became strong and confident. The others characters range from very classic to colorful, with specific dialects and manners (even though, we could use more of that!). A lot of work has been also done on this point. I'd suggest to go easy on that poor MC in the following chapters though... aha
I READ THIS BOOK A LONG TIME AGO, back when it was in its earlier stages, figuring itself out and in which direction it wanted to travel. So I feel qualified to give my opinion on the world, characters, prose, and overall likability of the story.
My overall thought, before I begin, is that this is a story that will entice mostly fans of the Fantasy genre. And that makes sense; it is a Fantasy book.
Secondly, I believe this is the sort of story that, because of the writing style and pacing, is more traditional of a literary manuscript than it is a web serial. So, if you're looking for something more traditional and opposed to the routine of typical Royal Road literature, this book would better suit your tastes.
Thirdly, if you're a fan of high-fantasy, middle fantasy, dark fantasy, or all of the above, you can expect aspects of each in this story, whether lasting or temporary.
Finally, my second overall verdict would be: if you're used to fantasy, this would be a spectacular read. If not, then starting with more traditional fantasy might help you better understand the concepts. As Sci-Fi/Horror fan—with experience reading the occasional George R.R. Martin—I found this book relatively easy to follow. But then again, most fantasy has a lot of lore that seems to make it difficult for noobies.
Nonetheless, it is accessible.
STYLE - 5/5
This is where a lot of clarity shines. Every paragraph is conveyed in a cohesive, sequential manner. And that is, of course, because the author spent a great deal of time editing and perfecting the prose to where clarity over fashion becomes the primary goal. This means there are no overly equivocating lines, overly fancy words, or hard-to-read sentences. This contrasts a lot with older fiction, which is to be expected with the evolution of language and fiction. Because of this, newer readers will find the read easy.
The pace is slow, taking time to paint the scenery in a fashion that it finds most beneficial to the world. It follows a systematic layout depending on where each character looks, seamlessly binding into one another without a clear cut. I'd best describe the transitions as those of a movie, where the angles cut from one to another depending on who's speaking. There is omniscience to it, and a limitation where the narrator doesn't know completely what a character is thinking. For that reason, I think it's predominantly omnipresent—one of my favourite styles and the one I like to use myself, most of the time.
Most of the suspense can be dumbed down to memory or transition: for Cateline, it is her naivety that makes things unpredictable; for Varin, it is his (seemingly dark nature) confidence that leaves the prose sure of where to proceed. So there is that nice diversity where you may end up enjoying one person more than the other solely because of the way the prose is designed, whether intentional or not.
I suppose what the style lacks, if I had to choose, would be more dialogue descriptors, particularly those that pay attention to mannerisms, body language, and overall character dichotomy. They all seem to have similar traits when speaking, which in a way makes sense, having shared similar origins. That would be more of my enjoyment, though.
GRAMMAR - 5/5
Basically no issues. So far this book has about as many errors as an actual book. Some big ones I pointed out already, and in the earlier chapters, I didn't bother because the dialogue tags sort of fixed themselves as time went on. There's not a huge amount of editing needed mechanically, so the author excelled in that area. Do they need to restructure prose? No—not really. It's fairly solid where it is now, and that's coming from someone that enjoys nitpicking anything grammar-related.
BUT one thing that Fajohn does a lot is squeeze two sentences into one with a vice. Such as: "I walked to the store, the clouds and wind moving quickly amongst the air." (Not from the book.)
This would be the only thing that bothered me only because of the frequency. At times I wanted to point it out but it kept popping up, so I thought I'd save it for here. Sometimes—a lot of the time—it's better to split sentences into standalone lines. It can help greatly with consistency and cohesion.
Other than that, well-edited and sound!
STORY - 5/5
The story is intelligently written. A princess that overcomes the trials and tribulations associated with her world, with darker, sinister twists afire.
The scenes appear thoughtfully placed, such as with the brunch (or was it dinner? We will never know) joining the important characters, where all the lesser roles are brushed aside through worldbuilding. Despite this, there is a clear air of life that fills the pages. One of the many reasons this story has that likeability is the way the author brings even the smallest details to attention without seeming stilted and contrived. No one looks at the door for the sake of looking at the door, but instead for what could possibly lay on the other side.
This technique helps in the expeditions of Varin (I still don't trust that guy, but I'll get to that later) and Cateline. That air of mystery seeps into you, making you question everything and everywhere. I remember someone said this reminded them of Alice in Wonderland, and I didn't understand how until later in the book. That dreamy, accented oil of storytelling can be seen in this book, too.
I don't necessarily have any complaints regarding the story, but I do against the genre tropes. But I won't mention them since every fantasy book pretty much has them. Every one that I read anyway (which is not many). So, overall it is a clean, structural start, with a slow build-up.
CHARACTERS - 5/5
There is nice humanity in everyone. I enjoy the sassiness of Cateline and the arrogant, overzealous attitude of Varin, which can easily change depending on the moment (very dark, very dark indeed). And I find that there is a deceptive nature in him, but I won't dwell on that too much. This is not a complaint, however, but instead a stroke of brilliance from the author. Having that mysterious questionability in a character is what makes them seem real and believable.
As I said, the characters interact well and naturally, and have both poor qualities and good qualities. So there is a mix of both worlds in there. Virtually no issues here.
OVERALL - 5/5
Overall, it's a pretty, coherent novel. While not open to non-fans of the genre, it is more than accessible to lovers of fantasy, dark fantasy, and science fantasy. George R.R. Martin is my best comparison, but that's because he's pretty much the only fantasy author I've ever read. The way they describe things differs, but the way they structure things is similar.
It is, indeed, quite POG.